Copyright Dr. Elizabeth Garner All Rights Reserved

And now we come to the family Geuder who’s coat of arms is THREE SIX POINT STARS connected by a triangle.


THE APOCALYPSE-The Opening of the 5th and 6th Seals

 Previous researchers interpretations:

  The actual opening of the seals is not shown, only the consequences.  The opening of both seals is here combined on one sheet.  The eclipses of the sun and the moon are signified by their dour expressions.  The angel standing behind the altar and dispensing garments derives from the Quentell Bible; the small kneeling figure directly below the falling stars seems based in Dürer’s Death of Orpheus (1494/11); the child bottom left on Schongauer’s ‘Salvator Mundi.’ The child is placed among the innocent at the left, whereas the anguished guilty are relegated to the right corner.

For the compositions, Dürer has employed GEOMETRICAL DEVICES; THE SCENE IN HEAVEN IS ELLIPTICAL WITHIN A RIM OF SCALLOPED CLOUDS.  THE SHOWER OF STARS HAS the configuration of a  rhombus, symbolic of the continents [IT’S ACTUALLY TRIANGULAR].  Except for the PHENOMENAL DOWNPOUR OF THE STARS-in the Quentell illustration ONLY A SINGLE STAR HAS FALLEN- and the crouching woman in the lower left corner, the sheet has been criticized as not on par with the others of the series.”

This print is enshrining Dürer’s hatred of the family Geuder for this composition enshrines Dürer’s humiliation of the Geuders.


The meaning of the word ‘Geuder’ in literary use beginning in the 15th century was that of a braggart and squanderer, a person that exaggerates grossly and or lives beyond his means. He enjoys life without constraints although Simon Rot, suggests in the “deutschen dictionarius” from 1571, a connection to gaudere, to be happy. “Geuden” ryhmes with “Freuden” (joy, pleasure). Other literary examples of the time tell us, [persons] “who waste their money and possessions for unnecessary things are called Geuder.” A “Geuder” is someone who says he rode in a year more than 400 dark nights through meadows and forests – an early inspiration for Baron of Muenchhausen. Another saying from the 15th century is “Take it from the miser and give it to the squanderer (Geuder).” Or “The father a saver, the son a (Geuder) squanderer.”

We can assume that the meaning of the verb geuder, giuder (to squander), was already established long before the writings of the 15th century occurred. Looking back, it is difficult to say which one came first, the name coining the meaning, or the verb becoming the descriptive byname for an exceptionally talented braggart.

The verb is still in current use in the German language in the form of “vergeuden” (to squander) and as a noun in “Vergeuder” (squanderer).

So, we have the name Geuder that means squanderer.

We must remember that Willibald Pirkheimer returned home with Albrecht Dürer from Italy in 1495 in time for the wedding of Juliana Pirkheimer to Martin Geuder on July 14, 1495, so Geuder is figuring prominently in Dürer’s life.


Coat of arms of Geuder on the right from a bookplate Albrecht made

THE COAT OF ARMS OF GEUDER: In a fallen silver blue triangle, at each tip with a silver star (NOTE THAT THE SILVER STAR THAT WAS USED WAS A SIX POINTED SILVER STAR).

The earliest historical record of a person with the name Geuder is the death of Sigmund Geuder in 1278, a knight, supposedly from Bohemia, who settled close to the free imperial city of Nuremberg. Having been a knight, the Geuders would have been of higher social rank than the other Patricians and again originating in Bohemia-a part of the Kingdom of HUNGARY.


The Nuremberger list of citizens, as well as their oldest book of outlaws beginning 1302 contains several Geuder. By 1330 the descendants of Sigmund Geuder had acquired the coveted citizenship of Nuremberg and very soon afterwards they became one of the prominent ruling class families of the rich merchant city. By the end of the century they purchased large property holdings north of town, in Heroldsberg where they built several, still existing, castles.

The Geuder probably came from Frankenstein Bohemia. The Geuder are detectable in Nuremberg since 1303. They acquired the Nuremberg citizenship and were quickly one of the most prestigious Patricains of the city. They belonged for hundreds of years to the Council of the City of Nuremberg , holding the most influential offices, including Mayor of Nuremberg. In 1391  Konrad and Heinrich Geuder acquired the lands of Heroldsberg, where the family to this day remains. In 1471 the Holy roman Emperor Frederick also gave Geuder own arms.


In Heroldsberg, Geuder became all powerful. Through skillful trade and marriage policy and the subsequent inheritance enlarged the land of the house. In 1440, they acquired, for example, the major share of ownership of Neunhof and in 1445 complete control of Neunhof.

Through marriage, the family retained Heroldsberg and  Emskirchen in 1501. They were from the 16th Century successful as officials and officers in the Imperial Prince court and services. In the Middle Ages they fought  “infidels” in the Holy Land and served as military captains against Hussites.

Politically, they were at all times in senior positions of the ruling Council of  Nuremberg with increasing diversification of the family as a royal secret services of councils in Brandenburg, Nassau, in the Kurpfalz and Anhalt .

The Geuder had large possessions in Nuremberg and Nuremberg’s surroundings:

  • 1387-???? 1387 -???? das Reichslehen Heroldsberg 1391-1661 Groß- und Kleingschaidt 1391-1661 Wholesale and Kleingschaidt
  • 1392-1977 das Grüne oder Rabensteiner Schloss (Kirchenweg 8) 1392-1977 Green or Rabensteiner Castle (Kirchenweg 8)
  • 1391-1580 den Alten Sitz in Behringersdorf 1391-1580 based in the Old Behringersdorf
  • 1441-1661 Schlösser und die Grundherrschaft Neunhof (Stadt Lauf) 1441-1661 latches and the basic rule Neunhof (City Run)
  • 1471-1928 das Weiße Schloss in Heroldsberg (Kirchenweg 4) 1471-1928 the White Castle in Heroldsberg (Kirchenweg 4)
  • 1501-1848 das Reichslehen Stein 1501-1848 the kingdom feud Stein
  • 1572-1616 das Schloss und die Grundherrschaft Großgründlach (später: Hallerschloss) 1572-1616 the castle and the lordship Großgründlach (later Haller Castle)
  • 1580-1957 in the Yellow Castle Heroldsberg (Hans-Sachs-Straße )
  • 1603-1658 das „Kleine Schlößchen“ (Tolstoistraße 5-9) in Fischbach 1603-1658, the “small castle” (Tolstoistraße 5-9) in Fischbach
  • 1615-???? 1615 -???? die Glashütte Herzogau The Glashutte Herzogau
  • 1720-1794 den Herrensitz Weiherhaus , 1720-1794 the manor house pond,
  • Grundbesitz in Bruck (Erlangen). Grundbesitz in Bruck (Erlangen).

Heinrich Geuder, Ratsherr, Reichsschultheiß von 1366-1385. Heinrich Geuder, councilman, Reich Schultheiß from 1366-1385.

Endres Geuder (1431-1496), (1431-1496), councilor, negotiators Nuremberg in important political events. Imperial officer to restore order in the shattered city Weißenburg kingdom. (Weissenberg was the location of the  first Dürer godmother )

Martin III Geuder von Heroldsberg und Stain (1455-1532), Ratsherr, Losunger und Reichsschultheiß, ab 1518 Pfleger aller Männ Geuder (1455-1532), councilor, Losunder(President-Tax Head) from 1524 caregivers of two Nuremberg parish churches, Owner of the Red Castle in Heroldsberg (1489).

So how has Dürer depicted his hatred of the Geuders?  The Geuder coat of arms is three six-pointed stars connected by a triangle.  And what do we have in this picture, which is a complete reinvention from the Quentell Bible?

The singular most noticeable part of this composition is the humungous cascade of six pointed stars falling from the sky in a triangular fashion, right in the middle of the print, with six pointed stars falling on everyone. Only one star was used in the Quentell Bible picture, so Dürer’s choice of focusing on a triangular mass of six pointed falling stars is very meaningful. These are the stars of the Geuder falling in a triangular fashion on everyone below the altar in the sky-simple heraldic canting.

Let’s look at what is the storyline of Revelations:

REV 6:9-12:

This is the extent of what the Revelations storyline says about the Opening of the 5th Seal:

Rev 6:9-11“ The Lamb was the creature that was found worthy to open the Seven Seals.  This Lamb is supposedly the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David-very strange for a Lamb to be a Lion) When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slaughtered for the word of God and for the testimony they had given; they cried out with a loud voice, “Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long will it be before you judge and avenge our blood on the inhabitants of the earth? They were each given a white robe and told to rest a little longer, until the number would be complete both of their fellow slaves and of their brothers and sisters who were soon to be killed as they themselves had been killed.

There is not very much in this storyline concerning the Opening of the 5th seal in this print yet it is a significant part of this composition and takes up the entire top third of the composition.  We are shown 6 Angels completing this task; four are male and two are female Angels, so we have a combination of 6 Angels for the representation of the Opening of the 5th AND 6th Seals.  We have an altar directly in the upper middle that is an altar covered by a plain altarcloth only decorated with long intertwined fringed.

From the left is Angel One leading a naked bearded and long haired man to join the group of  three dead souls that are lying under the left part of the altar. One dead soul is also a naked man with beard and moustache and long hair.  One dead soul is a woman who may be pregnant.  The third dead soul is a man with no beard or moustache and short hair.

On the left side of the altar stands another male Angel holding onto a white robe and touching the robe that is lying on the altar.  Behind the altar is the third male Angel who is looking at the group of souls to the right.  His right hand is touching the robe on the altar and with his left hand he is handing out to the multitude a white topshirt, which is being grabbed by one of the souls.  The fourth and fifth Angels appear to be female since they appear to have a headband on top of their heads. The 4th Angel is handing a robe to a naked woman while the fifth Angel looks at the naked woman and clasps her hands (in prayer?).  The sixth male angel is also giving a robe to a naked man with long hair; his back is to us but it appears that he is not bearded. Behind him is another head with a hand upraised; this head is tonsured also-so its probably a monk.

This leaves us with a group of five figures in front of the altar who are not in the story.  The left one is a male kneeling with his back to us turned in a ¾ position.  We see that he holds his hand down, not praying and it appears to be an outstretched hand.  The second person in this group is facing us, kneeling, looking at the third man.  On his head is a very strange object that appears to be a mark of some sort.  It is not a diadem for there is no headband and it is oval in shape with a stripe going sideways around it and appears to have a dot in it.  His or her left hand is holding onto his robe and his/her right hand is held up with his/her palm showing.  The third man is kneeling sideways and his hand are raised in prayer. He has the number “2” on his robe.

The fourth man is a tonsured monk, who is kneeling and he has the numbers “7” and “5” on his robe; the fifth man is long haired, long bearded and moustached. There is nothing in the storyline that accounts for this grouping of 5 men in this configuration before the altar so we must ask ourselves WHY would Dürer put this group in the middle of the upper picture for us to look at?

Rev 6:12 When he opened the sixth seal, I looked and there came a great earthquake; the sun became black as sackcloth, the FULL moon became like BLOOD, and the stars fell to the earth as the fig tree drops its winter fruit when shaken by a gale.  The sky vanished like a scroll rolling itself up and every mountain and island was removed from its place.  Then the kings and of the earth and the magnates and the generals and the rich and the powerful, and everyone, salve and free, hid in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains, calling to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us fro the face of the one seated on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb; for the great day of their wrath has come, and who is able to stand?

The opening of this paragraph indicates that an earthquake occurred but we don’t have any sign of an earthquake.  On the left hand mid side of the print there appears to be some sort of tidal wave, but when we look at it closely we can’t really tell whether it is water that is a wave crashing over a rock formation or not crashing up against it and underneath it is the hind end of a person crawling through the rock formation that appears to be a cave and there appears to possibly be a hand in this turmoil reaching towards the body that is crawling underneath the two waves.

Secondly, almost all of the stars that are falling are flamed, so these stars are on fire.

The art historians comments on Dürer’s other additions is not logical when it comes to the sun and moon.  The story line requires  the sun TURNING BLACK (interpreted by historians as an eclipse although we don’t actually know if an eclipse is meant in the storyline by a sun turning black) and the moon turning RED AS BLOOD (interpreted as an eclipse) and these eclipses are supposedly represented by dour expressions on these two celestial orbs.

This doesn’t make sense-the two celestial bodies are completely surrounded by WHITE SPACE which is a total anomaly.  The sun and moon are dour for a different reason.  We have seen before that the Sun and Moon to Dürer as used as representations of Apollo and Diana-who in turn represent Albrecth and Margret.  What we have here is Albrecht and Margaret Dürer VERY angry at the Geuders.  We don’t see evidence of an earthquake.  The small kneeling figure berlow the cascade of stars does NOT seem based on the Dürer’s drawing of the Death of Orpheus; it appears more to be a clothed fallen pilgrim wearing a very huge hat, and directly below the cascade of stars in the middle of the print is a pointed castle resembling one of the holdings of the Geuders.

The bearded pilgrim or monk signifies the Geuders involvment with the Nuremberg monasteries, having functioned as caretakers for some of the Nuemberg monasteries and as an indication that the Geuder is an immigrant from Bohemia-a pilgrim.

In the scene above we do have Dürer following the story line, depicting the naked slaughtered bodies of those slaughtered because of the word of God and the testimony they maintained and their being given white robes to await more slaughterees.  The angel dispensing the white garments comes from the Quentell Bible picture so this whole scen above is unimportant to Dürer’s encoding. On the right we have monks, and an emperor, and bishops suffering the consequences of the falling stars.

What IS STRANGE IS THE VERY PROMINENT BOY (as we can tell from the full frontal nudity) clothed in a long coat with his thUmb up, held by a woman in the lower left hand corner. So what can this mean?

Simple-the Geuders, like many of the Patricians made their money in the cloth trade, with the Geuders also trading in spices.  Here we have a naked boy in a simple burgher long coat-too long for an infant or young child to wear.  The nakedness is VERY PROMINENT.  So basically Dürer is expressing his contempt that the Geuders, originating out of Bohemia and who bought their title from Hungarian King Sigismund and traded in cloth, is as naked as is “the emperor had no clothes,”  an “imposter” Patrician, like all the rest of them.

[1] Strauss, Walter, The Woodcuts and Woodblocks of Albrecht Dürer, Abaris Books, New York, 1980, pg 189.

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    1. Elisabeth, maybe I should be flattered that you copy the research from my website about the Geuder family to the letter. If you did not twist it to fit your religious intentions. The name Gewder existed long before the verb ‘vergeuden’ came into use. There is no evidence that it had the same root – as a matter of fact, originally it had a positive meaning like exuberance!
      The Geuder family in Nuernberg was never one of the most influencial families of that era, and stars in coats of armor were used by many others knights as well. They actually had very modest homes. And made their money investing with the Mendel family. Their origins are west of Nuernberg, not in Bohemia.
      Frankenstein is not a location.
      And there are many documents attesting to the continued friendship between Martin Geuder and Albr. Duerer!
      So, a lot of bologny!

      1. Thank you Gaby for your comment,

        MY SOURCE is the leading accepted source by all historians written by Dr. Prof. Peter Fleischmann on the PATRICIANS OF NUREMBERG, published under the auspices of City of Nuremberg in 2008. There are three volumes in German for a total page count of over 3000 pages, which I read and Dr. Fleischmann does contradict your research.

        If you’d like to argue your points with Dr. Fleischmann, I’d be happy to supply his email address to you.



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